Libyans at UN-led talks have agreed to hold national parliamentary and presidential elections in December next year, the United Nations has said.
Participants at the talks in Tunisia “agreed that national elections should take place on December 24, 2021,” acting UN envoy Stephanie Williams told journalists in a virtual press conference on Friday.
“Reaching elections requires a new executive to unify the country. This requires the establishment of a reformed presidency council and an effective and unified government of national unity,” Williams said.
This week’s talks in Tunis follow a ceasefire agreed on last month between the two major sides in the country’s war – the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).
However, many Libyans remain sceptical that the peacemaking efforts will end nearly a decade of chaos and bloodshed following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.
Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive on Tripoli in April 2019 – but was beaten back in June by the GNA with military support from Turkey in an operation that pushed his troops back to the central coastal city of Sirte, Gaddafi’s birthplace.
The fighting left hundreds dead and displaced tens of thousands of people.
The warring factions returned to the negotiating table in September in UN-supported talks held in Morocco, Egypt and Switzerland.
The UN Libya mission, UNSMIL, is also leading the military talks near the ceasefire line in Sirte.
Williams has said the latest round of talks was “the best opportunity to end the division” since Haftar’s failed offensive.